Team Sky dominate on final climb of stage two of the 2018 Volta ao Algarve, putting Geraint Thomas into the race lead

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) won stage two of the 2018 Volta ao Algarve on Thursday, claiming the victory on top of Alto da Fóia in the race’s first climbing stage.

The Pole sprinted out of a compact group of favourites to win with a clear margin ahead of Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), with Welshman Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) in third. Daniel Martin (UAE Team Emirates) was fourth.

It’s Sky’s second victory of the day after Wout Poels won in the Ruta del Sol.

Double Algarve winner Thomas moves into the overall race lead ahead of Friday’s key individual time trial.

How it happened
Seven riders escaped from the clutches of the peloton after 10km: John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Marcos Jurado (Efapel), Benjamin King (Dimension Data), Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors), Ricardo Mestre (W52-FC Porto), Oscar Pelegri (Rádio Popular-Boavista) and Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe).

The group quickly built up a decent lead, stretching out their advantage to over seven minutes before the first of five classified climbs

King signalled his intention to claim as many mountain points as possible, cresting the first four classified ascents in the lead.

After the fourth climb, the escapees’ advantage had been trimmed back to under three minutes with the final, long ascent of Alto da Fóia looming in the distance. At this point, the UAE Team Emirates squad of Martin were pulling the peloton along.

Jurado was the first rider to drop out of the break on the flat section prior to the start of Fóia’s lower slopes before the attacks started to kick in, with Pöstlberger and King forming a duo out front.

However, their move was short-lived as the peloton swept up all remnants of the break with 9km to go.

Fóia’s 15km climbing test hit gradients of up to 10 per cent in places, providing the perfect arena for the GC riders to show their hand.

It was Team Sky who massed at the front of the bunch, taking over from UAE Team Emirates, and launching Vasil Kiryienka up the road. He was quickly joined by Martin, Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors), Simon Spilak (Katusha-Alpecin) and Sepp Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo).

As the other four slipped back into the pack, Kiryienka continued alone into the final 5km with a slim margin over the peloton.

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With 2km to go, the Belarusian looked to be fading and was swallowed up by the strung-out chasing group as they passed under the kilometre-to-go banner.

It all looked to be part of Sky’s grand plan, however, as Kenny Ellissonde moved to the front of the reduced peloton to drive up the pace for team-mates Thomas and Kwiatkowski.

Thomas opened up his effort first, chased by Martin with Kwiatkowski then surging ahead in the final few hundred metres to claim the victory ahead of Mollema, who had found his way past Thomas and Martin.

The 2018 Volta ao Algarve continues on Friday with stage three, a key 20.3-kilometre individual time trial starting and finishing in Lagoa that could potentially see some significant gaps opening up in the general classification. The race concludes on Sunday, February 18.


Volta ao Algarve 2018, stage two: Sagres to Alto da Fóia, 187.9km
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky, in 4-49-51
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
3. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates
5. Jaime Roson (Esp) Movistar, at same time
6. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 3 secs
7. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
8. Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
9. Vicente Rubio (Esp) LA Aluminios
10. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, at same time

General classification after stage two
1. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, in 9-37-49
2. Jaime Roson (Esp) Movistar, at same time
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky, at same time
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates, at same time
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at same time
6. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 3 secs
7. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors, at 3 secs
8. Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at 3 secs
9. Vicente Rubio (Spa) LA Aluminios, at 3 secs
10. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension Data, at 3 secs